University websites could play a more important role in helping students decide which university to attend than college rankings, the recommendations of family and friends or social media, according to a study published Tuesday by the edtech company Anthology.
Asked to select the primary sources of information they refer to find more information about an institution or its academic programs, 66% of respondents to a survey last November selected “internet search” and 63% chose “university website.” Twenty-eight percent selected university ranking guides and 36% said they would consult family or friends. Just 13% chose social media and 17% said they would ask a guidance counselor.
The availability of online courses was selected by 32% of survey respondents as either the most or second-most important element to consider when researching an institution. Cost of attendance and campus location were the top concerns.
Prospective students indicated a strong preference for email over other communication methods, such as phone calls or texts, during the enrollment process, which a majority said they would prefer to complete online using a computer rather than on a mobile device. Forty percent said the enrollment process would have been easier if they’d had access to an adviser to help answer questions.
“In an environment where enrollment yields are under pressure, institutions have to be intentional about the application and enrollment process, engaging students along their journey proactively, providing the support they need and demonstrating the value of a degree,” Anthology CEO Jim Milton said in a press release.
Anthology recommends in the report that institutions make sure their websites are “engaging, easy to use, and geared toward prospective students.” The report also suggests that institutions review each stage of enrollment to “bring communication in line with students’ expectations and provide additional, personalized support.”